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History of Change in Algorithms of Google

Algorithms of Google are basically those that help Google in ranking one’s website higher and the other lower. It is mostly seen that one website is ranked higher when a large amount of data is provided to Google where the less the data provided, those website are ranked lower. Google changes it algorithms at all time and ranks websites according to it. A website is ranked higher if it is unique and contains the qualitative content plus the website is properly updated at all time. In the same way, a static website is ranked higher than a simple website. The website that encourages the users to share its link is mostly highly ranked websites. Google with the help of algorithms ranks the website but this is not done after reading out the whole content instead this is done after reading the pages which has a meaning too.

History of Change in Algorithms of Google

Around five hundred to six hundred times, the change in algorithms of Google takes place in a year and this creates trouble for the webmasters on one side and makes them face challenge by enhancing their skills on the other hand. However, it is very challenging for the marketers as the change is seen by the entire world of marketing and mostly they are unable to react to such a change. There is a history behind the changes in algorithms. These are to be understood by the users and the website owners as they wanted their website to rank higher in search engine i.e. when people write a certain phrase, their website can be seen on top by searchers. The purpose of change in algorithm is to help deliver search engine the best possible experience to the searchers.

Now let’s talk about the history of Google over the passage of time:

The beginning of the 2000’s saw some of major changes to the Google search algorithms which introduced the indexing changes as websites started to drop in the rankings and the so called ‘Google Dance’ initiates as websites would move around the search engine results pages because of being penalized for falling foul to Google’s newest updates. In 2003, many updates were seen throughout the year with ‘Cassandra’ breakdown on links between similar domains and hidden onsite text and links. ‘Dominic’, ‘Esmeralda’ and ‘Fritz’ were all major parts of the ‘Google Dance’ but it was November of the same year that the major updates were seen.


Florida was the first major change by Google that caused panic across the internet. Before this update, a tactic currently known as a black hat was used to rank the website fairly well. Florida gave an end to this tactic used like keyword stuffing, cloaking etc.

Before Florida, there was an Austin update by Google at the beginning of 2003. It continued the work of Florida and moved towards further black hat methods too e.g. Invisible text, keyword stuffing along with link farming websites.

Brandy update was also introduced later that aimed to improve and enhance the ranking by Google. Index size was improved and enhanced and the new ways to search algorithms were introduced by Google. This allowed the importance of the anchor text to be increased as the quality and quantity links were coming in and going out of your website.

Tactics such as utilization of title, heading, bold and italics to emphasize keywords used by SEO were reduced in importance.


In 2005, there seems to be many updates by Google and therefore keeps importance. Firstly, Google map was introduced, Secondly Google maps API was announced, thirdly Google moon was launched and finally, Google merged local and maps.

Google map was launched to the entire world. It allowed the audience to search for the detailed directions and also their key points of interest.

Google maps API was also announced in the same year and it allowed all other website to display Google map directly to their own website via new Google maps API.

In respect of 36th anniversary of first manned lunar landing, Google launched the Google moon i.e. a satellite view of the moon. The users were able to see where the 6 Apollo mission landed.

Google introduced Google local in US and CANADA. The users were able to search locally for businesses and were able to see their locations integrated into Google maps.


In the year 2006, many updates again took place. Firstly, Google plus box was released. Secondly, Google mars released and finally the Google earth imagery was integrated with Google maps. 2006 updates also helped the users too much.


The Vince update, introduced in February 2009 was considered to be an update that strongly favored the big brands in the search results. Matt Cutts (the head of Google web spam team) reported that the bigger brands were getting special treatment by Google. Factors such as quality, trust and authority were considered for bigger brands and were therefore given a higher ranking in the search results.

The Caffeine update whose preview was seen in 2009 and which was not rolled until June 2010.This update was a major change to Google’s infrastructure which increased the speed of pages to be crawled to near real-time and the index was again enhanced. Caffeine updates provided 50% faster result and this was said by Google itself. As web is becoming more a social place, Google therefore updated its search engine on continuous basis globally.


The panda update is the biggest update to the search engines, the ramifications of which are still being felt today as this algorithm change is constantly being updated. This update was introduced on 14 February 2011 to the SEO world by Google on valentine’s special. The update affected up to 12% of search results and broke all the poor content on content farm sites and the pages containing more ads than the relevant content. Panda continued to be updated every year with the overall main purpose of all the iterations being to provide the searchers with high quality websites when they use Google. One major difference to previous updates is that with Panda the entire websites can be penalized rather than only pages. This update seemed to encourage the SEO folks to think more about the user experience of a website rather than focusing on pleasing Google. Helping to this major update, Google has released some guidance on building the high quality websites which aimed to help out people and make them understand how the search engines assessed a ‘quality’ website.

This update was implemented a year after the panda update in February 2012 and focused on integrating the local search results more tightly into search engine ranking. The result could be tailored to the specific area and the search engine ranking is done according to it. Venice update made the localized plan very important for SEO and this update clearly showed the Google’s focus on the local search.

Panda update has come quiet a long way. It was originally conceived as a way to penalize those who published weak contents and rewarded to those people who put out the quality contents on their websites. It was continued to be updated in 2012 and 2013.This update was modified to make sure that high quality content was rewarded. Update number 25 was noticed by Matt Cutts that the update was very similar to the previous update.



After panda update, another animal from the zoo came to help the web to be more search friendly and was therefore known as penguin update. This update is also named as the web spam update and has impacted around 3.1% of English search queries.

The main focus was on over-optimization and continued ridding rankings of websites which provides the poor contents. The websites which provided the content that is of little or no use to visitors or links to the non-related websites were affected and Google aimed to give creators of rich and the qualitative content the ranking that they deserves.GOOGLE PENGUIN UPDATE

The “Penguin” update has targeted both content and link spams. Besides, the aforementioned, pages use other black hat techniques like the automated link building software which is still considered to be a very popular and sophisticated method and other hidden links, link farms, Sybil attacks, page hijacking, domaining and cookie stuffing, among these many are plummeted in search engine rankings. Factors such as the fresh and high quality contents along with natural link building will be considered in ranking by Google.


Like panda and penguin update, it is not considered to be a new update. Instead it is a new algorithm. Panda and Penguin are part of bigger algorithms but Hummingbird is itself a bigger algorithm. In the past twelve years this is the biggest thing that Google has done since caffeine. One good news for the webmasters who are afraid of being struck down by any major changes that Google makes to its algorithm is that it launched a month ago so if you were not affected by it Panda or Penguin updates then you probably don’t need to worry at all about it. At least not in the recent terms.

The algorithms are announced by Google in press event along with all other events and with some interface and knowledge graph tweaks. Hummingbird was designed to let Google answer all queries immediately rather than being stuck to queries on keyword-by-keyword basis.


Google calls this algorithm as the Hummingbird algorithm as it is very fast. This algorithm has more of its focus on the meaning behind the word. It pays attention to each and every word in the query to ensure that the whole sentence has a meaning and is taken into account. Hummingbird is designed to apply the meaning technology to billions of pages from all around the web along with Knowledge Graph facts that may bring back better results. The main goal is to see whether the pages are matching the meaning rather than the few words.

With the release of Hummingbird, Google also announced for user to locate in-dept evergreen content. The company noted the best way that how the older content can be found by applying the authorship markups, proper pagination and logos, etc.

It is probably going to be more important than ever to provide Google with much information about your website as possible, so that it can understands it properly. It could be said that Google will continue to provide the webmasters new tools to help with this over the passage of time. Currently, according to Google you don’t need to worry about anything and hence Google’s normal SEO guidance remains the same. Hummingbird algorithm still consists of over 200 different signals that webmasters can take advantage of to gain a competitive edge in future.

With new ‘Hummingbird’ update which is already live, all seem that the search algorithm is shifting towards semantic web having the main purpose to provide more intelligent and personalized results to the searchers.


It is not an update instead a major event in the entire world. Google has killed the very common keyword tool currently. This is because the keywords are now becoming less important to search engine ranking success. Google has now become smarter and is focusing more on what actually the things mean from different sides i.e. from query side and from the webpage side. Currently the searches of the audiences who are not into Google are encrypted. This is terrible news for some of the marketers. Google is now providing its users extra protection from spies and therefore the marketers are now to adjust their efforts accordingly for continuing to monitor the effectiveness of their campaigns.

Obviously, this isn’t the end of the Google algorithm updates and both the Panda and Penguin (both part of bigger algorithms) will be continually updated over the passage of time and most likely into next with varying degrees of impacts.

However, the algorithms of Google have caused troubles to the users but on the other hand, it could be said that these changes have taken part to the development of meritocracy in search ecosystem.

About Shaharyar Afzal

Shaharyar is the Founder, CEO, and full-on Evangelist for SEOrex and BloggingRex. He is a SEO Expert and Web Developer. Shaharyar is a firm and passionate believer in user experience and the building of community.

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